Sometimes I just take a beep breath and say again: “I love Brazil.”
On our way to the beach this morning Luiz used his free bus pass to enter the bus. I followed behind, handing our beach chairs to him over the turnstile at the bus entrance while digging in my pocket for my fare. Seeing that we were together the trocadeiro (the guy who takes your fare) said to Luiz – "If he is your companion, he can enter for free as well."
Trying not to look totally dumbfounded Luiz asked for clarification. (While I happily slipped into the bus for free!)
It turns out the free transportation Luiz is afforded by the government because he is a resident with a chronic life-threatening illness extends to one additional person who would likely be needed to accompany him to medical appointments. How cool is that?!
So let’s review: The Brazilian government is taking the compassionate and progressive position that one will probably not survive their dire health circumstance if they cannot afford bus fare to get to their medical appointments. Rather than make citizens choose between food and bus fare they are backing up the patient with free transportation.
To go further, the government is acknowledging that people battling cancer and other really shitty illnesses may not, in many cases, be able to manage a trip to the doctor on their own. So the government pays the fare for a companion as well.
I’m sorry to say this, but: NEVER IN AMERICA.
The tangible “family first” culture in Brazil that extends into almost every social interaction with kisses, hugs, touching, smiles, sweet colloquial expressions and comfortable eye contact has apparently informed the government bureaucracy as well. We feel like the medical system is actually rooting for us.
It feels nice.